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5 Questions with the Curly R

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After Skin Patrol stopped by yesterday to drop some knowledge about the Redskins, I exchanged some questions with Ben Folsom at the Curly R, another terrific 'Skins blogs. Be sure to hop over there and check out my answers to his questions, as well. Without further ado, here they are:

The 'Skins finally made a change from Brunell to Campbell. What does Campbell bring to the table that Brunell didn't at this stage in his career, and what should the Falcons look for in keeping him in check?

Ben Folsom: Arm strength and some balls.  Mark Brunell is either unwilling or unable to go downfield, or to try and pop one in on tight coverage, or hit the receiver in the crossing pattern.  His style was dump off / sideline route / tight end middle.  The team swears up and down that longer routes were in the offensive packages, but Mark never threw the ball much past 20 yards in the air.  That's not good when you have fleet receivers on either side, burners that can create space off man coverage.

Jason Campbell has a big arm and can drill it into a small space, which in two games has opened the offense up a bit.  He seems a little nifty on his feet, so he's a harder target in the pocket.  Although Mark was revered for his scrambling and evasion as a younger player, he really doesn't have anything left in the wheels department, and it was almost like defenders were not rushing the quarterback, but rather trying to get to a spot that film reliably tells them Mark will be standing in.

With Jason under center, teams will have to defend more space, which should mean that Ladell Betts will get his carries.  If I were gameplanning against Jason, I'd focus on tight coverage of receivers, since he has big arm but has not shown a lot of touch yet, and confusion in defensive sets.  He's only starting his third game, and no amount of film can prepare him for an NFL defense out to confuse a young quarterback into making mistakes.

Dave: In the interest of full disclosure, I've always liked and admired Mark Brunell. That being said, it was clear that the Redskins were not going anywhere with him, and it makes me wonder why they didn't go to Campbell sooner. There's nothing I can say that isn't covererd by Ben about Campbell, so I'll just say nice analysis and move along.

The Falcons have a group of receivers prone to drops and the reliable Alge Crumpler at tight end, but I know the Redskins' secondary has been weak much of the year. What should we look for from the secondary?

Ben Folsom: Well the Redskins' secondary played like we have all expected for the first time just last week against the Falcons' division mate Panthers.  Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers held Steve Smith and Keyshawn under 100 yards receiving each, and both safeties had an interception, Vernon Fox on Jake Delhomme's first pass and Sean Taylor on his last pass.

Adjusting for the fact that last week's performance was the exception this season, I'd look for a lot of cover-2 by the safeties and a mix of tight man and zone from the corners.  That usually leads to open space in the middle and an open receiver on the side, either on a zone seam or in man coverage.  I've said all season that the Gregg Williams defense turns on good corner play, so if Springs and Rogers are hard and ready, Alge might be Michael's focus.

As a public service to Roddy, Michael and Alge, though, I'd consider taking out some Sean Taylor insurance.  There's a machine in the visitor's locker room, and all they need is a credit card.

Dave: I fear Sean Taylor's hits on our receivers...but at the same time, maybe he'd knock some sense into them. Hmm... But I do think Alge will be the biggest threat this game. Springs is an excellent corner and Rogers is capable of showing up big, so unless he fails miserably, Vick could have another troublesome day throwing the football.

Gibbs was a legend in his own time, but now is arguably no longer his time. Will the notoriously
impatient Snyder make a coaching change at season's
end, or is Gibbs safe?

Ben Folsom: No way.  Not even close.  Well actually, there has been some rumbling about possible shaking up the defensive coaching staff, possible all the way up to Gregg Williams, but I doubt it.  Gibbs won't leave after this season, and Dan Snyder would never ever fire him.  Many Redskins fans already hate Dan Snyder like poison, and he would not be safe anywhere if he dismissed Joe.  We'll see Joe back on the sideline next season.

Dave: I asked this question apropos of nothing, simply because Dan Snyder seems to me to be about the most irrational human being on the face of the planet. But it'd be good to see Gibbs on the sideline again, as he's a rather likeable guy. He's going to need better results, though.

Who is the Redskins' most dangerous player on both offense and defense, and what do you expect their impact on the game to be?

Ben Folsom: On offense, the most dangerous player is probably Chris Cooley.  The Redskins will pound Ladell Betts, who is an outstanding #2 running back, but the Falcons are stiff against the run, so lost in all the arms flailing and divots flying by the receivers, Cooley's sticky hands will help keep the chains moving.  The guy is such a stud he bangs a different cheerleader after each play.

On defense, the most dangerous player is literally the most dangerous player.  Sean Taylor's breath smells of ether and he needs two pints of Cristal a day to survive.  Sean only needs to ring up a couple of hits in a game to alter the way opponents play when they think he's in the neighborhood.

Dave: Can't disagree with either choice; Cooley's on my fantasy team, though he rarely plays. Taylor's just a superb hitter, and Rison help the first receiver who gets clocked going across the middle. For the Falcons, I'm going to argue for Alge Crumpler and Michael Boley, respectively, as they're two consistent, high level performers who are due for a big performance.

Who do you expect to emerge victorious, and how do you expect the 'Skins to finish up their season?

Ben Folsom" I run a homer site just like you, and plus I think this is a competitive game, so I'm going to pick the Redskins.  I think it will be a great game.  The Falcons are struggling, and ended on a poor note last week so this is either the week they cry tears of joy or where the continental shelf drops off.  The Falcons face the Buccaneers, Panthers, Cowboys and Eagles to end it, so they need wins where they can get them.

The Redskins played a great game last week, the kind of game that can bring a team together.  The defense not only played well, it saved the offense.  If the Redskins offense can grow, it might be fun.  Then again they may lay an egg and it will be 56-17 Falcons.

Washington finishes with Philadelphia, at New Orleans, at St. Louis and the Giants.  I think they can split those four.  That puts Washington at 7-9, good for second, third or fourth in the NFC East.

Dave: Call me a crazy optimist (or a homer), but I do think the Falcons will finally pull this one out. I think they all had a good laugh in the locker room this week and said "remember when we sucked for a whole month?" And then they all laughed uproariously and regained their talent. Then again, maybe we're screwed and our season is essentially over. It's hard to say. But I agree with Ben; I expect this to be a highly competitive game, but I expect the Falcons to pull it out, as well.

Round of applause for Ben, everyone! Meet back here later for the week's final injury report.